Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop
Listen to Samples
Windows R.I.P.: The final Windows Disc,
Phasedin | New Jersey | 05/28/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In 1996, Windows Bassist (and sometime's vocalist) founding member Skipper Wise recorded what is (to date) the last Windows recording. The band bagan recording in 1986 and pretty much issued about an album a year until they called it quits.
The band has an interesting evolution. Originally started as a 5 piece in the late 80's their first 2 albums (which originally featured a stable lineup of saxophone, guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums)was kind of like a late 80's updated version of all those defunct 70's fusion groups. With their 3rd album, "Mr Bongo" (one of their best recordings) they started branching out more, writing several vocal songs and bringing in some other influences beyond the limited Fusion posturing. This started their prime era really, in my book. By the 3rd recording the lineup began to change. They got a new guitarist Derol Caraco, who pretty much stayed with the group for most of their history (though he was pretty much missing from a couple of late period albums, making only an occaisional appearance on "Apples And Oranges" and "My Red Jacket")was far superior and versatile than the groups original Allan Holdsworth clone.
The band also originally featured my favorite percussionist ever to grace this band, Tim Timmermans (who also recorded some real good solo discs), as well as Bassist Skipper Wise' primary co-composer, Keyboardist Ed Cohen. With Cohen on board the writing was always guaranteed to be at a certain level. Cohen was a very reliable musician and composer and the Windows records made without him could be great on one tune and just so-so on the next, to well, sometimes pretty poor (especially on the more commercial vocal tunes).
This was a great band when Ed Cohen, Derol Caraco, Percussionist Tim Timmermans, and Skipper Wise were all there. Too bad they couldn't stay together.
From "Mr Bongo" on the saxophone chair became a revolving door. Sometimes the band would have the same guy for the entire album, other albums would have as many a 3 different Sax players. All worked well within the group without any of them being very distinctive or putting an individual mark on the groups music (most of which was written by Cohen and Wise).
Sadly also the drummer and percussionist changed frequently with Timmermans playing all of the percussion parts on the first several albums, to becoming just a hand percussionist after the band added another drummer. The drum chair also became a revolving door after Timmermans went to putting in some guest apperances before leaving altogether. The band still managed to make some decent music after his departure, with Cohen, Wise, and Caraco becoming the nucleus of the group, but the original lineup was now down to just 2 founding members, Cohen and Wise.
Then Ed Cohen left as well and Windows becamse essentially Skipper Wise' band.
After Cohen's departure, Mark Levang became the bands keyboardist for awhile, the resulting album "From The Asylum" was ok, but nothing too great. Windows kind of lost that touch that Ed Cohen brought to the group a bit to my ears.
Levang didn't stick around either and the drum and saxophone chairs were still changing constantly as well.
"Apples And Oranges" barely even used guitarist Derol Caraco and was primarily a vocal song-oriented album with Skipper Wise doing the lead vocals. Not bad, but the instrumentals on the album, which now comfortably fit into a nice "smooth jazz" catagory, were much better than the pop-jazz vocal songs. Really this was Wise's solo album essentially, and, while not at all bad, I don't know if Windows fans of the bands instrumental stuff would really be too interested in over half of the album.
The next to last album "My Red Jacket" cut the vocal tunes for the most part and Ed Cohen was back. But oddly this album was the blandest music the group ever made. I'm not sure actually that Cohen had really returned to the group or if the album may actually consist of left over tracks not issued when they were originally recorded, since Tim Timmermans and other musicians who had since left the band are also credited as being in the band on this disc. And with the lack of memorable tracks on "Jacket", I tend to think it may have been comprised of leftover tracks, but I can't be sure.
Then in 1996 "Funky Distinction" was issued. Now Skipper Wise was joined by keyboardist Les Pierce, who became the bands co-composer as Ed Cohen had been. Thankfully guitarist Derol Caraco is here also (the only previous Windows member to appear).
For the first time in the bands history there's no sax player at all, the main melody line being carrierd now by a trumpet player instead. There also are no drummers or percussionists to appear at all on this disc, another first for the band. All of the drum sounds I guess come from Les Pierce's keyboards. Unlike all of the other Windows discs there's almost no additional guest musicians, except for a vocalist on one track. Never before was the band comprised of only 4 main musicians, so this is a bit of a departure.
After the disapointing "My Red Jacket", this isn't bad. The music now is very mainstream "smooth jazz", funky and pretty commercial. In fact with the trumpet now as the lead voice about half the tracks sound to me like an updated Chuck Mangione record. So then we see Windows sadly fade into the sunset.
Wise and Pierce continued on after this in a new R & B vocal oriented group, "Colour Club" after this. That was a decent band for what it was, but there's little in it for Jazz fans or fans of the old Windows.
So here's to hopeing Wise will someday give a call to Ed Cohen, Tim Timmermans, and Derol Caraco and reignite the magic heard on some of the fine Windows discs like "Mr Bongo" and "French Laundry"."